Greece Condemns NATO’s Support for GNA

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Greece has strongly rejected the support of NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg for the Government of National Accord (GNA), claiming that he did not consult NATO member states before reaching foreign policy decisions.

The Spokesperson of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexandros Gennimatas, reminded NATO officials that no such decision had been agreed by member states, stressing that member states should unanimously agree to NATO foreign policy decisions.

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg had said on May 14, in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica that NATO is ready to support Libya’s GNA led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

“In Libya, there is an arms embargo that needs to be respected by all sides,” Stoltenberg had said. “However, this doesn’t mean to put on the same level the forces led by Haftar and the government of Fayez al-Sarraj, the only one recognised by the UN.”

“For this reason, NATO is ready to give its support to the government of Tripoli,” he added.

In a statement on Friday, the Greek armed forces had said a frigate had left the Hellenic Navy’s principal base at the island of Salamis and would begin patrols at the end of May. The frigate Hydra is carrying a special team for IRINI as well as a helicopter.

The Greek vessel will join two ships deployed earlier by France, the anti-aircraft frigate Jean Bart and the La Fayette-class frigate Aconit.

The European Union’s naval mission, called IRINI, became operational at the end of March and was agreed to in February, notably by France, Italy, Greece and Germany. It is meant to enforce the 2011 United Nations weapons embargo on Libya but there have been several disagreements by EU member states and other countries over its goals and mandate.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had claimed that IRINI went against international law and UN resolutions.

He also had claimed that the EU mission helps Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) against the Turkish backed, UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Operation IRINI’s stated aims are to “support the implementation of the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council on Libya” through the use of maritime and aerial means. The operation will also provide monitoring to prevent illicit oil exports and fight against human trafficking networks.